Russell's Viper ( Daboia russelii Shaw and Nodder, 1797 )

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Scientific Name: 
Daboia russelii (Shaw and Nodder, 1797)
Regional Names: 
Chain Viper
Parran, Chitti, Kaudia. hindi names are variable and region specific.
Anali, Manchatti, Payyana Mandali, Chenathandan, Mandali, Payyani, Rakthamandali, Rudiramandali, Rakthaanali, Kannadiviriyan, Manchatti, Vattackura, Pullan, Kuthirakulamban
ಕೊಳಕ ಮಂಡಲ
Yellowish-brown form. Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
Distributed throughout the country upto Assam and excludes Indian islands.
Venom Type: 
Characteristics for identification: 

This species can be identified easily by robust and stout body covered with keeled scales. In three rows eye or almond like spots found in whole dorsal body. This character helps people to differentiate between Russell's Viper and non-venomous Indian Rock Python which is found in the same range. 


Length -
Average length- 120cm (4ft). Maximum length- 180cm (6ft).

Dorsal body -
Body stout, covered with highly keeled pointed and dry looking scales. Dorsal light or dark greyish-brown, reddish, orange or entirely grey. Color and patterns become faint in adults or sometimes adults fund to be completely patternless. Continuous or discontinuous eye or almond like hollow or solid spots of dark brown or blackish color present in three longitudinal rows along the body; starts from head and generally become faint or absent on posterior side. Side spots are smaller and more rounded than spots present on the top and generally discontinuous.

Ventral body -
Belly white or light yellow with deep dark brown or blackish semi lunar spots on the edge of most of ventral scales. Underside of tail usually darker (brown or deep yellow) than ventral scales with paired subcaudals.

Head -
Head triangular, pointed with small keeled scales; broader than neck. Two triangular shaped spots of rounded edge present on the top. Upper lip pinkish white mostly. Supra nasal crescentic with large nostril. Moderate eyes have vertically elliptical pupil. Two very long fangs present in front side of mouth from birth.

Tail -
Rather small tail with pointed tip and covered with typical keeled scales; usually without patterns in most of life.

10-12 Supralabials; 10 to 15 small size scales surrounding eyes.
Highly keeled scales in 25-29:27-33:21-23 rows.
153-180; Anal undivided.
Sub Caudal: 
41-64; divided.
Found both in moderate elevation and plains; more common in plains. Habitat includes dry open lands, agricultural field, grasslands, dense vegetation, open forests, rocky terrain having mounds and vegetation etc. Hides in mounds, holes, piles, caves, cracks, dense leaf litters, dense vegetation etc. Activity terrestrial. Foraging and most of the activities seen during night time. At day time hides in shadowed thick leaf litters or rodent mounds.
Natural History: 
Locomotion usually slow. Behaviour alert and aggressive if one comes under its attacking range. On provocation make a plate like rounded coil with head on center and produced whistle or pressure cooker like sound to alarm its enemy. On further disturbance gives random attacks to scratch enemy's body parts.
Feeds chiefly on rodents; also feeds on birds, lizards, frogs and small mammals.
Following are the threats for Russell's Viper- Road kill mortality. Killing due to its venom potency and aggression on encounter with humans on field. Illegal venom trade for various use including medical and research use. In many parts of country it is exploited for skin and meat.
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